Nursing is a vastly complex career, and a career in nursing can often be totally stressful and hard to manage. There’s so much to remember, so much to do – and so much to NOT do. It can be a lot for even veteran nurses to deal with, let alone a new nursing school graduate.
It’s tough out there for all nurses. So to help you keep your head at work – whether you’re a rookie nurse or a grizzled veteran who can insert a foley cath with her eyes closed – we’ve put together a list of some of the most important do’s and don’ts of nursing.
Read on, and learn with us.
- Clean As You Go – There’s nothing more miserable than walking into a patient’s room and seeing a mess left behind – trash, un-emptied bedpans, diapers, tissues, used medical equipment – whatever it might be.
There’s no excuse to not clean up after yourself. Even if you don’t have the chance to deal with your mess when you make it, ensure that you check all the rooms and patients you dealt with before your shift is over, and clean up after yourself. Your coworkers and patients will appreciate it.
- Encourage Your Coworkers – Nursing is hard. You all know it. It’s a rewarding career because you can push your limits – who would have thought you could work a 16 hour shift and not keel over halfway through? But this stress can build up and lead to a toxic work environment.
A great way to minimize stress is by giving credit where it’s due, and encouraging coworkers who are doing a great job. What goes around comes around. If you give a coworker a much-needed boost, chances are you can count on them next time you’re feeling down.
- Question Physician Orders If They Don’t Make Sense – We get it. Challenging a doctor can be tough – and scary. But your job isn’t to blindly follow doctor’s orders – it’s to be a patient’s advocate, and make sure they get great care. Doctors are human too. They make mistakes. And if you think your physician has given an order that doesn’t make sense, politely bring it up. It could be a life-or-death difference.
- Learn Something New Every Day – Nursing is all about learning. The more you learn, the better you are as a nurse. Did you know that body lotion is a great way to clean tough-to-scrub feces from a patient with excess body hair? No? Now you do! Every time you learn something new about your job, your job gets easier – or your ability to provide care grows. Make it a point to learn something new every day, no matter how big or small.
And DON’T do these.
- Get Distracted – Your phone is not your friend, especially if you’re a new nurse. It’s a huge source of temptation for distraction, and distraction is the enemy of good care. If you can’t trust yourself to use your phone responsibly, lock it up until the end of your shift.
- Ignore New Nurses – “Sink or swim” usually means just “sink” in the world of nursing if you refuse to help a new nurse with basic tasks.
Try to put yourself in his or her shoes – this job is tough for newcomers, and though you shouldn’t put yourself in a position where a new nurse relies on you entirely, a little kindness and help goes a long way toward developing a good relationship.
- Overload Yourself – You are not SuperNurse. You’re just – you. A good nurse, probably a great nurse! You can’t handle everything on your own.
Take breaks when you need to and when you can. Don’t take overtime if you don’t think you can handle it. Talk to your manager if you feel overworked. Ask your coworkers for help. Taking steps to make sure you don’t overload yourself with work means you’ll provide better care when you’re working, and maintain a healthier work/life balance.
- Gossip Or Say Negative Things About Coworkers – Do you want to destroy your positive work environment? If so, ignore this advice! Gossiping about coworkers or talking trash about their performance is one of the worst things you can do for your work environment.
Nurses talk. That means that if you say something negative, it will get around to the person you were talking about – and they’ll probably know who said it. Gossiping is never worth it, and can lead to poor team performance, cohesion and a toxic work environment. If someone is talking trash about a coworker, ask them to stop – or at least leave the room. Don’t join in.
These tips may seem deceptively simple, but these are some of the most important things you can do to encourage a healthy work-life balance, great work performance, and good team cohesion.
Just like everything else in nursing, the basics can be most important. So follow these do’s and don’ts, and see how these simple tips can help enhance your productivity, work-life balance, and job performance.
Anything to add? Share your dos and don'ts in the comments section below.